"For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21 NIV) Paul writes those words. I have said them many times. They come to mind this morning as I think about life and death, having had one member pass away this week. I expected Arline's death. The surgery had gone well. Things looked good. Then everything changed. And it didn't look well. Visiting in the hospital intensive care ward, she was still positive, not positive that she would live through this event. She was positive she would live. "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." Faith guided her thoughts at that moment. "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" Jesus asks. (John 11:25-26 NIV) The answer she gave was a resounding, "YES!" Living in Christ, dieing in Christ, gaining in Christ. What more can be needed?
Entering the room at the nursing home of another member, Penny with me, and we wondered, "Was she still alive?" Perhaps I have gotten used to watching as one is on the cusp of death. I was insensitive to Penny at that moment. I forgot that while I have spent countless times walking through the valley of the shadow of death, she hadn't. I am sorry that she was facing that. I know her pain. I know the feelings. Been there, done that, got the scares upon the heart to show it, and still, Penny understands. Her faith is strong, very strong. She understands those words of Paul, the words of Jesus, the faith that guides her. Without that faith, the look of death scares. Death is overwhelming. She has faith in Christ. She recovered quickly. And she proclaims that life that is given.
For me to live is Christ - every moment of life is about Christ, sharing Christ, loving Christ, living Christ, being with Christ. To die is gain - is it? Is it gain for you? Are you terrified of death? Do you fear what is to come? I don't want to face death - not because of what is coming, but because I am a wimp. I don't want pain. I don't want suffering. I don't want to see my family cry. But I am not afraid of what is coming when I die. I gain! I gain eternal life! And I will see my loved ones again in heaven - at least those who believe in Christ Jesus.
If you don't believe in Him, I offer to you one thing. Christ. He is your Savior. He is your life. He is the One who suffered, died and rose again for you. That's right, for YOU! The Father loved you so much He sent His Son to die for you so that you may live. Through faith in Him, and in Him alone, you may have life. Without faith in Him, death is terrifying because it means eternal damnation. It means going to hell. It means never knowing the love of the Father again. It means not seeing your loved ones ever again. It means - loss, great, total and complete loss. Loss of your life, loss of love, loss of everything including the presence of God in your life.
For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. We will all die one day. We will. That is a fact. No matter what we do to try to prolong life, it won't work. We will all die. The question is, "Is it gaining or losing?" It is gain in Christ. It is loss without Him. Now is the time to believe and call upon His name and be saved.